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Old 08-05-2009, 01:55 PM   #1
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The big red windsurfing van!

Part One: The Prologue

I'm going to try to post a detailed account of the genesis of my windsurfing van for the benefit of all the windsurfers out there that are contemplating such an undertaking. When I was researching my van, there was very little information out there on floorplans, systems and dimensions, so I thought I'd add to the knowledge base for future reference.

I did find some good information about homebuilt vans here:
http://www.steynfamily.com/ultimate_win ... van_02.htm

and, of course, the Sportsmobile website has a little info in this page:
http://www.sportsmobile.com/3_windsurfer.html

There is also a bit of info for windsurfers from the other side of the pond here:
http://www.actionvan.biz/CC_HIBARDK007.html

In the end, the only company I found that could do what I wanted (and had done something similar in the past) was Sportsmobile, so that part of it was decided since I didn't want to get into a months long homebrew project.

The next decision was whether to go with Ford or Sprinter and whether I wanted or needed 4WD (which would take out the Sprinter from the equation). I figured I wasn't going to do any rock crawling or off-road trails, but the idea of 4WD was still attractive after I saw a guy get stuck in a full size van a dozen feet from the road at the local beach.

I drove the Sprinter, which impressed me with its quiet ride and car-like road manners, I drove an E350 with the diesel engine, which was immediately eliminated because my wife would never ride it with the diesel clackety-clack and I drove a gas powered E350 which seemed like a nice middle ground between the two.

It was down to either a 2WD Sprinter, which would hold more stuff more efficiently and drive a little better, or a V-10 Ford, which could be converted to 4WD and cost less. Once Dodge declared bankruptcy and I read some maintenance issues with the Sprinters at http://sprinter-source.com/forum/index.php I decided to go with the Ford.
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Old 08-05-2009, 02:05 PM   #2
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Re: The big red windsurfing van!

Part Two: The Van

So, I had decided on the Ford V-10, and I started looking around. There were a few 2008 diesels and V-8 gas units, with the Quigley conversion already done that were going for very good prices, but I could not find any V-10's

I contacted Quigley, who put me in touch with a dealership that had some 2009s on the way into their shop that were not yet sold, got a red hot recession deal from one of them and a month later was the proud owner of a 2009 RB V-10 cargo van with all the good options such as back-up camera and alarm, power package, upgraded stereo with CD, message center, upfitter switches, hitch, trailer control, etc.

Here's a couple of pictures of the van before the 4WD conversion, during, and after:


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Old 08-05-2009, 02:26 PM   #3
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Re: The big red windsurfing van!

Part Three: The Layout

Deciding on a layout was difficult because I wanted a short van in order to ease around town driving, but it would have been much easier to fit all my windsurfing gear in the longer extended body. I seriously considered the EB but in the end decided drivability was more important to me, since I plan to drive the van to work a few days a week, and I'd try to make my gear fit into the shorter RB. After all, I had been putting items as long as 11' on top of my Mini Cooper, anything would be an improvement.

Since I was space-limited, a few things would have to go: The obvious one was the LP system and stove, since the boards would have to go on top of the counter, in a rack, making the stove unusable. The sink was harder to get rid of, but would have the same issue as the stove, so it got the boot. An outside shower was a must for getting the saltwater off after windsurfing, so it would have to do double duty as a source of water for toothbrushing and cleaning stuff.

Notes for windsurfers:
1) I don't know yet how things will actually fit, since I haven't seen pictures of the progress of my van, but if my calculations are correct, I should be able to fit six sails (4.7-8.0), one 7'6" board, four masts and two booms into my lenghtwise driver's side cabinet. Three larger winsurfing boards should fit above the cabinet on racks. I hope...
2) My largest sail is an 8.0 and longest mast is a 490. Anything bigger than this will probably not fit in an RB as you can see from the floorplans with rulers that I've attached. On the one hand, boards have gotten shorter and wider over the last few years, making length less of an issue for B&J or wave sailors, but if you like Formula boards and huge 10-12M sails (I don't) you definitely will have to go with an EB.

I wanted three forward facing seats, but you could do away with the third one and place a small cabinet with a sink there if you wanted to.

Anyway, here's the floorplan I came up with and the finalized floorplan that is being built. Tomorrow, I'm going to write up a list of equipment going in the van and the reasons for the various options, but for today this will be it as I have to get some work done.

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Old 08-06-2009, 09:52 AM   #4
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Re: The big red windsurfing van!

Part Four: The Equipment

So, as I mentioned before, this is kinda, sorta like an EB200, but built into an RB and with some additional stuff, but without some of the standard stuff. Kinda.

Here's the optional stuff that is being put in and the reasoning behind it:
Electric pop top with bed: More for the headroom than the sleeping room, I doubt I'll be using the bed very much, but when hanging out at the beach, it will be nice to have the extra headroom. Also easier to change in.
Cherry wood grain: No good reason here, just better looking IMO.
Loncoin: Easier cleanup and less mildew than carpet, longer lasting than the thin vinyl
Carpet Overlay: Nice and soft under the feet, pull it out and clean it.
Ultraleather: Inevitably, someone with a wet bathing suit will sit on the chairs. Cloth will get stinky, leather will wear so vinyl and ultraleather (expensive vinyl) are the best options. Ultraleather wins out because it is so soft!
Extra captains chair: I need three forward facing seats so my crew doesn't lose their lunch.
Solid countertop: Another luxury I could have done without. But it looks pretty.
20G water: Need lots of water for rinsing. There are girls with long hair in the family.
2.7cf Refrigerator: A must to keep those "after windsurfing session" beverages cold.
Delete Propane & stove: Had to get rid of something
Danhard air conditioning: Florida in the summer. 'nuff said.
External shower: To get the saltwater off. It gets itchy when it dries and you put a T-shirt on.
Flat Plate: 55-60 degree winters + windy outside shower = a need for nice warm water. I don't want to hear how good we have it from all you midwestern polar bears!
4D Battery: You can never have too much power.
Prewire for solar: Can't put solar panels on top because there will be boards carried up there, but maybe I can hook up a separate portable panel? In any case, I thought it would be better to have it put in for future now, rather than having to tear things up to put it in later.
Inverter: For small loads like electronics chargers, TV & DVD players, gaming systems, etc.
Generator: For large loads like the air conditioning. Also, I can run a hot plate if I need to, since I don't have LPG. Also, a small microwave or coffemaker. And to make sure the batteries are always charged. Did I say you can never have too much power? I thought about the Honda portable that everyone likes, but decided against it because: A) I'm not going to have much, if any, storage space left over after I stick my windsurfing gear in the cabinet, and B) I didn't like the idea of carrying spare fuel and the generator inside the living space. Fuel inevitably spills and your interior ends up smelling like the forecourt of your neighborhood Shell.
Privacy curtain cab: So I can change without feeling like George in that episode of Seinfeld... "It was cold! The pool water was cold!"
Lumbar Support: Lumbar's been good to me, why not support him?
Thule track mount Full length: Because there will be stuff carried on top.
Trojan front bumper, no grill guard: I'm not going bushwhacking or stumpjumping or rockcrawling or any of those other compound words you other guys do, but I do need a little extra storage space. This seemed like a good place to store wet stuff like wetsuits, boardshorts and booties, assuming it has a drain. Otherwise, I can put small tools, fins or windsurfing rig components in there. It is expensive storage, but I'll admit it does look kind of cool. I had them take out the brush guards because A) I can't see them protecting the grill or headlamps with the huge space between the pipes and B) I don't think I'll be clearing brush with my van.
Trojan tire carrier: Because the generator goes underneath, where the spare goes, so the spare has to go on the back.
Two trojan side ladders: Long items up top need to be tied well. The ladders will make that easy. Two ladders (on the same side) means that I can also tie boards up lengthwise on the side of the van, not just the top. Kind of like the pictures at the top & bottom of this page http://www.margaritaville.com/index.php?page=obx
Passenger side electric running boards: So the missus can get in her side of the car. I'm such a gentleman!
Magnum air compressor: For airing up when not playing in the sand. For filling up kites without having to use that little stand-up/bend-over pump. Hopefully I'll find I few more uses for the air compressor around the house.
Bushwacker fender flares: Probably a waste of money. I can't think of any practical use for this other than stroking my male "looking cool" ego.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:59 PM   #5
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Re: The big red windsurfing van!

Sailquik-
There is a really good reason for "Cherry Wood Grain". It's not MDF with a photographed cherry wood outer layer. It's real fairly high quality plywood with what I believe is a cherry face ply. LOTS stronger than MDF and holds fastenings Way better, and in addition to that, it's a bunch lighter to boot. They didn't offer it when I built my van, but I would have paid any reasonable extra amount to have it. There's NO excuse for MDF in a vehicle that gets abused as ours do. (IMHO)

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Old 08-06-2009, 08:08 PM   #6
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Re: The big red windsurfing van!

Just an opinion on the front bumper. The bars will most likely help out in the event of a high speed animal collision. I have seen many a long road trip called to an abrupt end by a deer taking out the front bumper, grill, radiator, headlights,AC condenser, oil cooler and engine fan.
Just an observation.
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:36 AM   #7
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Re: The big red windsurfing van!

Quote:
Originally Posted by saline
Just an opinion on the front bumper. The bars will most likely help out in the event of a high speed animal collision. I have seen many a long road trip called to an abrupt end by a deer taking out the front bumper, grill, radiator, headlights,AC condenser, oil cooler and engine fan.
Just an observation.
That is an excellent point that I hadn't considered. When I made the choice, I based it on maintenance accessibility (easier cleaning and not having to drop the bumper to change a headlight or the front grille) and cleaner looks. I never thought about large animal strikes, just the odd branch, twig or rock, which would easily go through the spaces between the tubing anyway.

Unfortunately at this point, the bumper's been built and is getting powder coated for installation next week, so I'm SOL WRT to changing it.

Changing the subject a bit, something has been concerning me a bit about that bumper: The stock bumper has a hole in it for letting air into the bottom section of the radiator and I think the Aluminess does not. For folks who have had the stock bumper and switched to an Aluminess: Anyone know if there is a difference in the engine operating temps before vs. after?
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:47 AM   #8
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Re: The big red windsurfing van!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skywagon
Sailquik-
There is a really good reason for "Cherry Wood Grain". It's not MDF with a photographed cherry wood outer layer. It's real fairly high quality plywood with what I believe is a cherry face ply. LOTS stronger than MDF and holds fastenings Way better, and in addition to that, it's a bunch lighter to boot. They didn't offer it when I built my van, but I would have paid any reasonable extra amount to have it. There's NO excuse for MDF in a vehicle that gets abused as ours do. (IMHO)

Bill
Interesting you should mention that because when I went in and asked that they NOT use MDF on my sail cabinet/locker (which will inevitably get damp at some point causing MDF to swell), I was told they weren't using MDF anymore and that it was some sort of Ply, even for the standard finishes. They even showed me a cross section of the material, which looked like plywood to me.

Another thing of note is that the "Wood Grain" that Texas initially offered me was just the printed outer layer you mentioned in a light oak pattern, that looked suspiciously formica-like, but I found the darker cherry in one of their sample books and they agreed to do that for me. We'll see how it turns out, but I have a suspicion that the materials used in Fresno and Austin are not always the same...
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Old 08-07-2009, 09:26 AM   #9
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Re: The big red windsurfing van!

Sailquik
I think that the oak stuff is photo overlay, where as the cherry is actually wood outer ply.
Plus the cherry is really pretty!.
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:34 PM   #10
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Re: The big red windsurfing van!

Looks like it will be a fine windsurfing van when finished. Windsurfing was my original inspiration for finding the perfect vehicle. At one point I had a blazer with a custom walk through camper made. I had the back end completely loaded down with equipment. Now that I finally have my sportsmobile I've gotten out of windsurfing for kiting (learning anyway). One of the main reasons is the volume of gear needed to be serious about Windsurfing. May not be many on this forum that understand dumping the stove and sink to fit gear inside, but I sure do. Windsurfing can take over ones life, in a good way. I don't regret a day of it.

Good luck, van looks great.
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